Pork, Peace and Principles: the Relations between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union

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Abstract

Over the last decade the EU faced numerous calls to engage with the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan set up in 2010 and its successor, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), found in 2015. While proponents differ in terms of their justification and desired scope of cooperation, they share the view that it should take place on a region-to-region basis, thus representing an important departure from the EU's approach to the post-Soviet countries. The EU's reluctance to embark on such a course so far has been attributed to the political crisis of EU-Russia relations, especially in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine. In this context, for some, a mega-deal contains not just the promise of economic cooperation and connectivity, but also represents the means to improve relations with Russia and restore peace and stability in Europe.
This paper argues that while these are worthy objectives, the utility of a region-to-region engagement with the EAEU should be premised on a realistic assessment of the nature of Eurasian integration as well as informed by the priorities in EU's external economic relations following its 2006 Global Europe strategy, more generally. To this end, the paper examines the EAEU against three particular dimensions: the extent to which it represents a unified regional actor, its trade liberalisation credentials and its ability to meet the EU's values conditionality. It concludes that the EAEU's institutional set up and practice exhibits fundamental problems in all of them. This means that the expected benefits of a regional mega-deal with the EAEU are highly uncertain, but also that moving away from a bilateral mode of engagement will entail significant departures from EU's principles and approach to external relations more generally.


Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEU External Relations Law: Shared Competences and Shared Values in Agreements Between the EU and Its Eastern Neighbourhood
EditorsRoman Petrov, Stephen Lorenzmeier, Christoph Vedder
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021